Sunday, 31 July 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

I was really excited to read Matched – firstly, I fell in love with that gorgeously simple cover, and secondly I was extremely interested by the concept – a very controlling society (imaginatively called ‘The Society’) which dictates when its citizens shall die, what poetry they shall read, where they will work and who they will spend the rest of their lives with, amongst other aspects of life; I know it’s been done many times before, but I thought that Matched would take its own spin on things with the even more interesting idea that Cassia’s Match is not who she is meant to be with, and if she pursues a life with her true Match, the Society will punish her severely.

I was really drawn in at first, but the story soon began to feel a bit stretched out and the pacing was very slow – I felt that Cassia spent far too long obsessing over the forbidden poems found in her artefact, though I understand it was a very rare and dangerous situation for Cassia, who I really didn’t take to at first, but she developed pretty well as she began to challenge the way she is forced to live (though I’m still not her biggest fan). I wasn’t expecting Cassia to believe and conforms to the Society’s view on things, as it is usually the opposite way round, such as Katniss in The Hunger Games; speaking of which, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Hunger Games from the announcement of the victors to their journey to the Capitol when reading about Cassia’s journey to her matching ceremony – there were certainly many similarities between the Capitol and the Society, along with other novels of the same vein.

I felt that more could have been written about the Match Bouquet as it was obviously an important event, but I felt it was rather rushed. Cassia’s relationship with Ky developed believably, which is actually pretty rare in the world of YA romance, especially when a love triangle is inevitably involved, but it was handled realistically, along with the portrayal of Cassia’s controlled world. I didn’t quite get why as soon as Cassia saw Ky’s picture for a split second instead of Xander’s on the portscreen she pretty much instantly abandoned poor Xander and set about obsessing over getting to know Ky, whom she assumes is her true Match, as he can never be Matched because he is an Aberration due to his father’s actions. The ending picked up a bit, but it was not enough to save the book in my opinion.

The writing was very good, but many of the characters seemed to be pretty dull in my view. Another thing that irked me a bit throughout was that many things about the Society, such as how it came about were never explained – I mean, I’m sure they will be eventually, but it seemed like it would have been very interesting to read about, rather than what the red pill does, by which point you learned I couldn’t really care less; I think the pacing of this book was my main problem – it covers a few weeks maximum, with a bit of action in-between, yet it’s so drawn out that you become bored halfway through. I don’t think this series deserves the seven figure sum that Condie got for it off the bat (but yes, I am extremely jealous!), however I will be reading Crossed, the next in the trilogy, to see where the series heads.
[SYNOPSIS: When Cassia attends her matching ceremony, she never expects that her match - the person she'll one day enter into a marriage contract with - will be someone already she knows. So when it's announced that the Society Officials have matched her with her good friend Xander, she has mixed feelings. She won't experience the excitement of getting to know her match for the first time, but on the other hand she knows how wonderful Xander is already. She won't feel the same rush of excitement as other girls do when her microcard arrives and she's able to look upon her match's face on the portscreen for the first time. But when Cassia's microcard does arrive, things aren't at all as she expected. Because the face that flashes up isn't Xander's. And perhaps Cassia doesn't know quite what to expect after all.]


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